Some hard news about Eleanor’s health

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Eleanor and Maggie (the doll) looking at all the neat things at CHOP…


At the end of November Eleanor will be having minor surgery to remove two pre-cancerous lesions from her scalp.


About a year ago I (Anne) noticed a strange mole on her head while doing her hair. At first I thought it was a birthmark that I somehow had missed for the first year and a half of her life, but over the next several months noticed changes. We went back and looked at pictures of her bald baby head and can say definitively it was not there at a year. After that she had too much hair to tell. We spoke with her doctor and decided to continue to monitor it. Over there next few months it continued to change and grow and a second mole appeared, about two inches away. We took her to see a dermatologist who expressed concern and sent us to a specialized team at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). We had a consultation with them a few weeks ago where they confirmed the dermatologist’s concerns and told us they believe there is a risk the lesions will become melanoma if they are left untreated. The treatment plan is surgery, to remove both moles, and it is our prayer and hope that we have caught this early enough and that the pathology will show they remain precancerous or very early stage melanoma and that surgery will be considered curative. Both Melanoma and pre-cancerous pigmented tumours are quite rare in children, but there is a multi-disciplinary team at CHOP set up to deal with whatever follow-up care she needs. She will need some form of regular checks in the long term, as whatever genetic mutation that allowed for these two tumours to grow still exists and increases her risk for melanoma for the rest of her life. We pray that we will be able to be diligent in checking her skin and protecting her from additional risk factors (like sunburn).


After the surgery it will take one to two weeks for us to get the pathology reports back.


Eleanor is in good spirits. She has some pain and discomfort at the spots on her head, but is otherwise well. She considers going to the doctor to be a fun adventure and is looking forward to her surgery. It will be a brief outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia at one of the best children’s hospitals in the country. We liked the surgeon we consulted with and are confident in his care – he is the head of pediatric plastic surgery and has over 30 years of experience.


We are stunned and concerned but also comforted by the same things that comforted us when each faced with our own cancer diagnosis – God is good, He does not will evil, He weeps over our suffering and He will bring good out of this. It is our fervent prayer that Eleanor does not have cancer, but we are not desperate, or despairing – we are not hopeless. Our hope is in the Lord, and we have peace, “that He directs all things, and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end.


We recognize that this is another hard thing our family, and to those who love us. It can feel like a blow, a sucker punch, like the wind has been knocked out of us. Loving people who are hurting and who continue to hurt is hard. It is traumatic to learn that someone you love is facing trauma. Please don’t minimise your own responses to this. We have considered carefully how to balance our desire to be open and honest to to rely on you, our community, and your loving hands to hold us. When it gets hard, seek help for yourself. Turn to each other, to your own circles and ask for help, for support, for comfort and love. Rely on the strength of the people who love you and on God’s grace for this.


Thanks for continuing to walk with us through the hard.


9 thoughts on “Some hard news about Eleanor’s health

  1. Sweet people … we know you are held gently and lovingly in the Lord’s hands and love the positive thoughts and strengh you are having during this difficult time. My positive thoughts and prayers are with you too. Love always

  2. This brings tears to my eyes – that you have to go through this with your daughter on top of all you’ve already faced. I’m so happy that you have a strong belief in the Lord and His Divine Providence, however, and know that your faith will sustain you. My thoughts and prayer go out to you.

  3. I follow your story with compassion and hope, and find your approach and unwaveringly faithful attitude uplifting. And yet, I weep. I’m sorry you face this hardship. ♡ May the days ahead find you comforted by all who care, near and far, in this world and the next. And special hugs for your sweet Eleanor.

  4. I can’t deny it—I think you have had enough already! It’s hard–very hard, not to dissolve into complete inactivity as I think about this new blow in your life! So Lord, what’s up? Yes, I do know the beautiful teachings about whatever befalling us whether good or evil is a step towards our eternal welfare. I also know that this life is unmeasurably small in comparison with our eternal lives. Those two thoughts almost take away the shock, chagrin, and tears. But not quite. That is because I am not regenerate. Coleman and Anne, it seems like, as young as you are, you are much farther along in that path than I am! Thank you for your shining example to the world!

  5. My goodness, life continues to throw sucker punches when least expected – especially in your direction it seems. I follow along with your blogs faithfully Anne Grace (as perhaps you do with our Stacia’s), and will continue to pray for you all and for little Eleanor. It truly does help to know that you are being cared for by “the best” medical care possible, and your positive spirit is both very uplifting and an inspiration for one and all.
    Michael’s cousin Wendy.

  6. So many phrases from the Word are popping into my head about the Lord’s compassionate heart and care. The song that comes into my head is the Servant song with the phrase, “I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you, we will walk the mile together, I will share your joy and sorrow, ’til we’ve seen this journey through.” One of the best things that has happened to me is my friendship with you! We are walking hand in hand with you and your sweet family.

  7. Ann you are so brave. Wishing Eleanor a successful operation, quick recovery and a good outcome to the pathology report. Sending hugs.

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